CAIRO — An announcement by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton that Washington is sending an aircraft carrier group and bomber task force to the Middle East is drawing mixed reactions from countries in the region. Iran has condemned the move, while some U.S. allies nod in agreement.
Arab media announced the U.S. deployment of the aircraft carrier group USS Abraham Lincoln and an air strike force, amid reports of possible tensions with Iran and threats by Iranian officials to “close the Strait of Hormuz,” to shipping from the Gulf.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told a group of visiting students and teachers Sunday that Tehran would ultimately defeat (its declared enemies) the United States and Israel, “with the help of God.” He said that despite all the “propaganda” and other measures that the (U.S.) is taking and despite Iran’s military disadvantage, he thinks that God will help Iran defeat the U.S. and bring (Israel) to its knees.
Some Arab media reports said that Iran and its Lebanese proxy militia Hezbollah had supplied the Palestinian Hamas movement in Gaza with a new rocket launch system to hit targets inside Israel, used during recent fighting. VOA could not independently confirm the claim.
Al Arabiya TV analyst Youssef Azizi claims Iran has brought a number of its proxy militias from Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan to its western Khuzestan Province and “might possibly try to attack U.S. forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.” Iranian media say the militias are helping victims of recent flooding.
Iranian analyst Massoud al Faikh told Arab media that he believes Iran “has no incentive to launch an attack against its adversaries, since it is weaker than they are.” He went on to say, however, that Iran does have a “strong network of speed boats which could launch attacks against shipping in the Gulf.”
Iran’s ISNA news agency also reported that President Hassan Rouhani would “respond on Wednesday to U.S. sanctions and (Washington’s) withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA)…by imposing counter-measures based on Articles 26 and 36 of the deal.” U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of that deal on May 8 of last year.
Rouhani told a gathering Sunday that the U.S. was “trying to bring down the Iranian regime” and Tehran must foil those efforts. He said Tehran is engaged in a war with the U.S. to destroy Iran’s political system and that Tehran must educate its young people well, in order to prevent that from happening.
Rouhani told another gathering that the U.S. was “trying to starve it financially by preventing it from exporting oil in addition to creating dissension among the Iranian people.” He went on to suggest that Iran “must increase its sales of petrochemical products to increase its revenues.”
Trump is expected to announce new sanctions on Tehran on May 8, including on its petrochemical product exports, on the anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear accord.